Dovetails

Things requiring joinery includes any form of furniture, jewelry and whatnot boxes, millwork, etc

Dovetails

Postby loyd » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:14 pm

I admit to being intimidated by the Leigh Dovetail Jig. I use it on average about once every 4 or 5 years, put it away, and forget the experience. On the other hand, it's the only way I know to make dovetails; so I use it. But when I do, it begins with a blank slate. If that book with the step by step instructions wasn't handy, I'd have to just surrender and find another way to make a corner joint.

So given the challenge of making an oversize serving tray for my wicked stepdaughter, I decided that the corners had to be strong, so I ruled out 'my go' to reinforced miter joint. The tray is 18" x 18" and will be used to serve snacks to visitors and sit on a ottoman in the center of a circle of friends -- anyway that's the description I got for the project. The usual tray for this purpose is under 12" in width which is pretty easy to make, but that just will not do as demonstrated on my last visit.

Back to the Leigh jig. If you're faithful to the directions that jig will make some pretty decent dovetails. Faithfulness to instructions isn't my long suit so I wring my hands and try to sneak up on the final by a series of baby steps. Usually my final baby step results in a joint that is too loose so I've taken note of that and, using a test piece [as suggested in the book] I get to that point, note the distance to the last 'too tight' fit and split the distance. My patience is really tested by this time in the process so I cheat and keep it nearer the 'too tight' setting than the 'too loose' setting. Using a heavy mallet is the last step -- not exactly faithful to the instructions but it seems to work.

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BTW: Those pins are supposed to protrude so you can trim them off level, but I seem to have overdone them this go round. I'll probably not remember that error next time around just like I did this time.
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Re: Dovetails

Postby loyd » Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:57 pm

Have you ever heard this? "For a boy with a hammer, everything is a nail!"

IMG_20190605_142444_498 (Copy).jpg
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Re: Dovetails

Postby sid_matheny » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:29 pm

I tried dovetails by hand a few times but my scrap box got full! I did manage to do a couple on the router table but they sure weren't perfect. My hat is off to you Loyd!
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Re: Dovetails

Postby loyd » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:24 pm

Tom Cowan could do hand cut dovetails in the time it takes me to set up the Leigh. Henry went to one of Tom's workshops and came home with a really good dovetail joint. I don't know if he kept that up. Henry, Henry Davis . . .
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Re: Dovetails

Postby henry » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:06 am

I do remember Tom's workshop and may have the sample I made. I don't remember hand cutting any dovetails for any project as I used a dovetail jig.
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Re: Dovetails

Postby loyd » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:12 am

I try not to make dovetail joints but sometimes they seem to be the right answer. When I made my workbench cabinet with 9 drawers the Leigh jig really did the job nicely. After I got set up, I went through the project very quick [not without a lot of anxiety] and it worked as hoped. So they have a place.
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Re: Dovetails

Postby rgulley » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:27 pm

I used a Keller jig to do the dovetails on the cedar chest I’m STILL working on. The chest is over 2’ tall and the joints turned out better than I expected. I should have used tapered caulk when gluing up, but all in all I’m happy with them.
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Re: Dovetails

Postby loyd » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:55 am

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I'm satisfied with these dovetails. I certainly wouldn't try to duplicate them by hand. There're tight [mostly] and certainly sufficient for the task. I made the mistake of rounding over the tops of the side pieces before dovetailing so the top of the corners are kind of icky. And other than that, I also didn't see pencil marks before putting on the first coat of polyurethane so they are a permanent feature of the project now. I had sanded the sides up to 180 grit before assembling them and then made a mark where I needed to put some masking tape to keep the saw marks off the 'finished' sides AND then forgot them. People may think I add these details to show that the project was made especially for them but there's no need for me to add features -- they just happen. :oops:
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Re: Dovetails

Postby southpaw57 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:55 am

Another successful adventure. Good job! :geek:
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